Jakarta runs out of apartments as applicants keep on coming

Jakarta (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - A number of flood victims from Pluit who arrived at the low-cost Marunda apartments in North Jakarta on Saturday in search of new homes were forced to leave disappointed as all the apartments were occupied.

Demand for low-cost apartments has soared significantly as more flood victims are beginning to willingly relocate, as suggested by the Jakarta administration.

"The officials here said there were no empty apartments left. We demand that the governor fulfill his promise to give us a new home," said one flood victim, Maila, as quoted by tribunnews.com.

Maila was one of the Pluit residents who went to the apartments when Jakarta Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo visited the place to offer aid.

After relocating around 500 squatter families to the apartment building, the administration is now running out of habitable apartments.

Jakarta Housing and Administration Building Agency head Novizal said on Saturday that around 1,000 families had signed up to rent apartments at the Marunda complex, leaving only 300 apartments still vacant.

Of the 1,500 units in 15 administration-owned apartment blocks, 1,200 have been occupied since Saturday.

Novizal said the 300 units were actually not ready to be inhabited as they required some repair.

The agency would finish connecting those units to the water facility by Sunday, while electricity was currently only available along the alleys, not in the rooms, he said.

The governor had offered the 300 apartments with the proviso that new residents should not complain about the limited facilities, he said.

Novizal said his agency could complete the repairs, especially the electricity, once the home minister approved the 2013 city budget, which the city council passed last Monday.

He also said that residents needed to understand that the administration was prioritizing the apartments for former Pluit Dam squatters.

The relocation of the Pluit Dam squatters will make the administration's work easier on restoring the dam, which has silted up to a depth of 3 meters from an initial 10 meters. The number of squatters along the dam is estimated to be more than 11,000.

"The administration wants to repair the dam as soon as possible, so we need to relocate the squatters immediately," Novizal told The Jakarta Post.

He said if the number of squatter families who lived around the dam exceeded the number of the available apartments, the agency would conduct a lottery to determine who would be offered an apartment.

Novizal said that 1,100 other units at the Marunda complex were owned by the central government.

But those apartments could not - either due to their dangerous condition or their being caught up in a protracted process - be handed over to the city administration, he said.

In the meantime, the administration has prepared 140 low-cost units at the Pulo Gebang apartments in East Jakarta and 400 others in Muara Baru, North Jakarta, for more squatters, he said.

According to Novizal, the city administration had allocated around Rp 100 billion (US$10.3 million) this year to build six new low-cost apartment buildings, including two 16-story buildings in Jatinegara, East Jakarta, and Pasar Rumput, South Jakarta.

The new apartments are intended for house squatters who have been relocated from the Pluit Dam and Ciliwung riverbanks.

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